Well we’ve made it folks. It’s been a rocky ride and the show has certainly had its ups and downs. From numerous love triangles through to some absolutely bizarre stylistic choices, Backstreet Rookie has certainly been an acquired taste.
However, there’s no denying that the characters have done a great job in their roles and there’s a warm, fuzzy feel to the way this one ends.
The finale of Backstreet Rookie (episode 16) begins with Dae-Hyun awakening to find Saet-Byul has gone. In her room is a letter explaining she’s giving them all some space.
With the money from the Real Estate back, she’s now gone to work on a farm and left him a small gift. Dae-Hyun however heads straight to the police station, desperate to find Saet-Byul. He attempts to sweet talk the detective into giving up information but it’s a fruitless endeavour.
Meanwhile, Saet-Byul makes her presence felt immediately, confronting a couple of workers in the store room. However, she struggles to shake Dae-Hyun’s memory in the wake of this.
Dal-Sik and Geum-Bi head out on a trip to greet the former’s father out at the farm. Only, it’s not just a little farm. This stretch of land marches on for many acres. As Dal-Sik’s father encourages her to find a new bachelor, Geum-Bi finds herself laughing nervously.
As they drive off together, Dal-Sik spies Saet-Byul working and heads in to take a closer look. She’s working at his farm. This inevitably prompts Dal-Sik to ring Dae-Hyun and reveal the news. He races over too, scolding Saet-Byul and telling her this definitely isn’t the end for them. For him it’s only the start.
However, they soon run into trouble when the gang from earlier return. Thankfully Saet-Byul and Dae-Hyun take it in turns and manage to thwart the threat. In the aftermath of this, they sit and drink together.
Dae-Hyun admits that he actually did know about their Taekwondo encounter in the past. It’s something that’s been playing on Saet-Byul’s mind for a while, and hearing this brings a smile to her face. He also tells her not to change her address officially as he’ll be waiting for her. As he leaves, Saet-Byul is offered a position at the farm full-time.
Dae-Hyun sits and eats a meal with Yeon-Joo. He hands over a letter of resignation and admits he wants to go back to running a convenience store. He also rejects Yeon-Joo one more time.
On the back of this, Yeon-Joo decides to give up (yes, I know this sounds like deja vu but she’s for real this time). She speaks to her Mother and tells her she’s going to be a marketing expert and move back to the US.
In the wake of this, Boon-Hee and Hye-Ja sit together and talk about their kids. It’s an ironic conversation, as Boon-Hee berates Hye-Ja. She learns about the secrets their kids have been keeping and the sacrifice Dae-Hyun made too. After hearing all this, Boon-Hee makes her case and tells this woman that pride is more important than money.
Back home, Dae-Hyun admits to his parents that Saet-Byul has left. She didn’t want to “get in the way” and this, of course, stems from the way Boon-Hee was talking about Yeon-Joo the previous night.
It’s here Dae-Hyun opens up to them and reveals the truth. It’s a really heartfelt moment and one of the best pieces of acting in the whole show. He tells them that money and fame isn’t important – he wants to live the same sort of life as them.
It’s a touching moment and one that eventually sees Dae-Hyun head back to the store, desperately waiting for Saet-Byul’s text.
Saet-Byul meanwhile, receives a message through that confirms she’s passed her GED. Only, the certificate happens to be at Dae-Hyun’s house. She sneaks over in the middle of the night to pick it up but Boon-Hee and Yong-Pil get there first. They talk about Saet-Byul before mentioning Dae-Hyun has quit his consulting job.
This inevitably brings her out from hiding where everything is cleared up. Boon-Hee hugs her and apologises for the mishap earlier. She then hurries back to the convenience store where she finds the message for part-time help outside. Given Dae-Hyun’s sleep deprived state, he believes she’s a hallucination until he grabs her cheeks.
As he admits his true feelings to her, the duo hug it out. As they do, Geum-Bi and Dal-Sik spy them together and decide to create a new web-toon going forward called Backstreet Rookie. As they get writing, we see the highlights for Saet-Byul and Dae-Hyun’s moments through the 16 episodes.
That final moment sees Dae-Hyun and Saet-Byul… .almost kiss but then turn to the camera and obscure it from view. It’s a cheeky fourth-wall break and one that works really well here. We then cut to Boon-Hee who wins an award at work. Yong-Pil arrives with flowers and everyone celebrates.
We also catch up with a variety of other supporting characters, including Eun-Byul who’s all but a footnote in this story now. Finally, we cut back to Dae-Hyun and Saet-Byul who bow to the camera and allow the camera to spin round and show the cast and crew.
The Episode Review
So there we have it, Backstreet Rookie closes everything out with everything wrapped up in a neat little bow. It’s also quite telling that the two leads don’t kiss either – and I wonder whether this is as a result of that earlier controversy. To be honest though, Backstreet Rookie has had far bigger problems than that.
The writing has felt all over the place at times and between the love triangles and half-baked sub-plots, the show has never really got going. There’s definitely some nice moments but Yeon-Joo’s prolonged presence and the constant will they/won’t they angle has gone on for too long.
Having said that though, Backstreet Rookie ends with a nice fuzzy finish and fans of the show will undoubtedly love the send-off given for all our characters.